While on my unsuccessful moose search in northern Maine recently, I came across a bird found only in points north of middle New England.
I knew what it was and launched the field guide app on my phone to gather a little information on the species.
To my surprise, nothing showed up when I searched for the bird.
“How could that be?“ I asked myself. “I know what bird it is and I know what it’s called. Why would it not show up on a search in a field guide to North American birds?”
Then it hit me. I was searching the wrong name. The gray jay is no longer called the gray jay. It is back to being the Canada jay. It had formerly been known as the Canada jay, got switched to gray Jay, and in 2018, got changed back to Canada jay. I had known this before, and even mentioned it in a previous bird column, but had totally forgotten while I was in the field at that moment.
Photo by Chris Bosak A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.
Gray Jays are quickly becoming one of my favorite birds. Their range does not stretch into southern New England, but on my last several trips to northern New England, I’ve seen these handsome and friendly birds. I have been visiting the northern reaches of New Hampshire for more than 20 years now and I started seeing Gray Jays only in the last few years. They appear out of nowhere and offer close views. They seem to be as curious about you as you are about them. From what I’ve seen, they hang out in small flocks (3, 4 or 5 birds.) Gray Jays are one of those boreal species that makes the Great North Woods so special. I took the above photo while canoeing on a small pond in northern New Hampshire. This one flew right up to the pond’s edge to check me out.